By Gillian B

When most of us think about stress, we think of mental stress, such as when we are running late and stuck in traffic, or are going through a breakup. There are actually many different types of stress, but at the end of the day the body responds to them all in the same way.

Here are some of the different types of stress as outlined in James Wilson’s book Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome:

Physical: overtraining, lack of sleep, infection, injury and surgery.

Chemical: air pollution, medications, toxic tap water, food additives, allergies and sensitivities, alcohol, and stimulants such as coffee and drugs.

Emotional: family responsibilities, financial, workplace, relationship, social and lack of self-esteem.

Stress has a profound impact on our society. Psychology Today calls the stress hormone cortisol “Public Enemy Number One”:

“The ripple effect of a fearful, isolated and stressed out society increases cortisol levels across the board for Americans of all ages. This creates a public health crisis and a huge drain on our economy.” (4)

Renowned author and award-winning neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky was featured in the documentary Stress: Portrait of a Killer. This documentary, produced by National Geographic and Stanford University, follows Dr. Sapolsky as he shows just how dangerous prolonged stress can be. (1)

Sapolsky explains how you are more vulnerable to stress if the following factors are true: (1)

  • Feeling like you have no control in a situation
  • Lack of predictive information such as how bad the challenge is going to be or how long it will go on, etc.
  • It feels like there is no way out
  • Things seem like they are getting worse
  • You have no social support

Ayurvedic Specialist Dr. John Douillard states: “When under stress, the body is forced to manufacture and secrete excess stress-fighting hormones to boost energy. The waste products of these hormones are called free radicals, which may be a leading cause of premature aging. What’s worse is that these hormones and the free radicals are very acidic, which alters the blood and cellular chemistry to become less alkaline and more acidic.”

Stress has been identified as the root cause of about 80% of all chronic health issues. The hormonal chemistry of stress is degenerative and lymph congesting. (3)

In the documentary, Dr. Sapolsky lists the most common health conditions that are caused by or worsened by stress (1):

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Hypertension
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Infertility and irregular cycles
  • Frequent colds
  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Appetite changes
  • Digestive problems and gut dysbiosis

Stress is very draining and makes us spend our daily energy allowances quickly, leaving us in energetic debt. What is worse is that when we are stressed, we tend to use substances such as sweet food, caffeine, cigarettes and drugs as a crutch to help us get through the discomfort. Unfortunately, these coping mechanisms only further deplete our energy reserve and leave us more out of balance than we were before.

To get back into balance, we need to be aware of how we feel each day instead of just plowing through with the “white knuckle” approach. We need to be in tune with our bodies so we know when it is time to ease off and take a break, and when its okay to move forward and take action.

Here are some ways that you can limit the effects of stress on the body (2):

1) Breathing exercises such as alternate nostril breathing.

2) Unplugging from technology regularly, especially after 8 pm.

3) Self-care practices like meditation, gentle yoga and taking Epson salt baths.

4) Regulate your sleep cycles; aim to go to bed at 10 pm.

5) Reframe stressful thoughts and situations into positive learning experiences.

6) Listen to your body and choose the right form of movement.

7) Get out in nature daily.

8) Organize your environment so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed.

9) Practice saying “no” to commitments that drain you.

10) Journal daily or talk it out with a trusted friend or therapist.

Each day, try and incorporate more of these stress management practices as if your life depended on it — because it does!


  2. Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by James Wilson

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